• An Early Warning System for Landslides Protects Sitka, Alaska

    A hard rain was rattling against the rooftops of Sitka, Alaska, as day broke on August 18, 2015. Just before 10 a.m., a hillside gave way. A river of mud, rocks, and broken trees surged down the slope and crashed through the subdivision.

  • New “Cosmic Concrete” Is Twice as Strong as Regular Concrete

    Building infrastructure in space is currently prohibitively expensive and difficult to achieve. Future space construction will need to rely on simple materials that are easily available to astronaut. Scientists have created a new material, dubbed “StarCrete,” which is made from extra-terrestrial dust, potato starch, and a pinch of salt. It could be used to build homes on Mars.

  • Taiwan’s High-End Semiconductors: Supply Chain Interdependence and Geopolitical Vulnerability

    What are the geopolitical implications of Taiwan’s dominance in global semiconductor production? How would the peaceful annexation or outright invasion of Taiwan by China affect the United States, its allies and partners, and the global economy? What are the United States’ options for mitigating or reversing the unfavorable effects of either unification scenario?

  • U.S. Unveils Aggressive National Cybersecurity Strategy

    The Biden administration is pushing for more comprehensive federal regulations to keep the online realm safer against hackers, including by shifting cybersecurity responsibilities away from consumers to industry and treating ransomware attacks as national security threats.

  • The Most Advanced Bay Area Earthquake Simulations to Be Publicly Available

    Accurately modeling the effects of an earthquake is possible, but it requires intricate physics-based models that can only be run on advanced supercomputers. The data from such models are invaluable for the earthquake research community and engineers seeking to build and retrofit earthquake-resilient homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Supercomputer-generated simulations will soon be accessible on an open-access website.

  • Breakthrough Alert Messaging for a Mobile Public

    It is in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) that the danger and damage from the growing risk of wildfires is most prevalent. Of paramount importance is alerting people in the path of fires and enabling their safe evacuation from the area.

  • Homes in Flood Zones Are Overvalued by Billions: Study

    Flooding is a costly and deadly natural hazard across the United States, and climate change will only make floods more frequent and more destructive. Failure to account for climate change means low-income homeowners could see their home values plunge.

  • Earthquake in Turkey Exposes Gap Between Seismic Knowledge and Action – but It Is Possible to Prepare

    The final death toll is likely to place the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria among the worst natural disaster. The sobering question to us, as disaster mitigation scholars, is whether this enormous loss of lives, homes and livelihoods could have been avoided. There is no way to prevent an earthquake from occurring, but what can be prevented – or at least curtailed – is the scale of the calamity caused by these inevitable tremors.

  • Stoking Wildfire Resilience in Oregon

    Monitoring allows all the moving pieces of an emergency response to launch into action and for decision makers to have as much time as possible to assess and mitigate the threat. This is certainly true when it comes to wildfires. S&T is piloting smoke detection sensors ahead of the 2023 wildfire season.

  • More Places to Experience Floods as Extreme Weather Events Become More Frequent and Intensify

    As extreme weather events become more frequent and intensify, the number of people and places exposed to flooding events is likely to grow. But until now, surprisingly little was known about how floodplain development patterns vary across communities.

  • U.S., China Compete for Africa's Rare Earth Minerals

    African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo have some of the largest deposits of these resources, but China currently dominates the supply chain as well as their refinement and the U.S. wants to reduce its reliance on the Asian giant.

  • Floods, Rising Sea Levels Push Planned Internal Migration

    Climate change could force billions to move by the end of the century, displaced by floods and rising sea levels. Some communities are already adapting through managed retreat and moving people to other areas.

  • Earthquake Footage Shows Turkey’s Buildings Collapsing Like Pancakes. An Expert Explains Why

    Many of the collapsed buildings appear to have been built from concrete without adequate seismic reinforcement. Seismic building codes in this region suggest these buildings should be able to sustain strong earthquakes (where the ground accelerates by 30% to 40% of the normal gravity) without incurring this type of complete failure. The 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes appear to have caused shaking in the range of 20 to 50% of gravity. A proportion of these buildings thus failed at shaking intensities lower than the “design code.”

  • Gauging Losses and Lessons in Turkey's Unfolding Earthquake Calamity

    As earthquake engineers stress, most of the time, buildings kill people, not the shaking itself. Many of the buildings destroyed in the quake had “soft floors” – ground-level retail spaces with very little reinforcement supporting far heavier residential floors above; buildings where, for tax purposes, higher floors jutted out beyond the dimensions of the ground floor; or homes where floors were added as families expanded. Engineers call such structures “rubble in waiting.”

  • Powering the Nation: How to Fix the Transformer Shortage

    America’s electric grid relies on transformers — electrical components that convert voltage, enabling power distribution to homes and businesses. Disruptions to transformer operations, such as natural disasters, extreme weather, or cyber/physical attacks, cause substantial economic damage. Securing the transformer supply chain is critical to ensure resilience, expand renewable power, and strengthen grid safety. To mitigate potential disruptions, Congress should spur the supply of transformers by investing in domestic transformer manufacturing and workforce development.